Find out more about our inventory check out services

With so many more people renting rather than buying nowadays – especially in London – it’s important that landlords, tenants and property inventory providers work together closely to ensure that everything runs smoothly, both when a tenant moves into and out of a property.

That’s why services such as our own inventory check out services in London here at Yellow Oak Inventories LTD are as important as ever.

 

What are check out inventory?

The main point of a check out inventory is to compare the original signed inventory – taken out when the tenant first moved into the property in question – with the current condition of the property. Check outs take place at the end of the tenancy, and normally occur with the vacating tenant present.

 

What is assessed during an inspection?

It’s often the littlest things that count during a check out inspection. Did you know that 80% of the costs caused at check out are a result of poor cleanliness?

The condition of the furniture is checked, as are curtain rods and blinds to ensure that they are working correctly. Domestic appliances need to be checked to ensure that they still have electrical power, while the batteries in smoke/heat and carbon monoxide alarms are also tested.

The inventory check out also looks for damage and the cleanliness of:

  • Carpets and rugs
  • Walls
  • Bathroom furniture
  • The kitchen
  • Windows (exterior and interior)
  • Tidiness of garden (if applicable)

 

What else does a check out involve?

As well as the inventory, check outs normally include a host of other occurrences. Here at Yellow Oak Inventories LTD, for instance, we take full-colour digital photographs of every room in the property, in addition to photos of any specific damage, should there be any.

All being well, at the conclusion of the inspection, the keys will be collected from the outgoing tenant. With all of the above said, a tenant moving out can be a trying and stressful time for both tenant and landlord, even if no great problems occur with the check out inspection.

Thankfully, Yellow Oak Inventories LTD is here to assist with all of your property inventory needs. Our experienced and efficient clerks can assist with everything from check in inventories to check out inventories, so please don’t hesitate to contact us for further information.

Are you protecting young tenants?

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As a landlord in the PRS you’ll understand more than anyone the growing need for rented accommodation for the younger generation, namely students. CEO of the flat sharing website ‘Weroom’ has recently stated that ‘deposit disputes are becoming an inevitable part of the rental experience’, especially for students and young renters. Unsurprising new research has also revealed that property maintenance and damages are the most common causes for disputes between landlords and their student tenants. Weroom.com also found that out of the 330 – 18 to 24 year olds that they surveyed:

  • only 40% were aware of their rights as tenants,
  • 40% experienced cleaning related property disputes,
  • 33% admitted that they had ‘given in’ to landlords and agencies to avoid confrontation.

Do you house young tenants?

With so many students and budding renters looking for their next home in the PRS, it is critical that you make them aware of their rights from the start. Student housing can be a very lucrative market, what with university life becoming more of a once in a lifetime opportunity in the UK than ever before. Not forgetting the increasing amount of young families out there looking for their next home in the PRS too. As a landlord your main objective is to keep your tenants happy, meaning that they will stay for as long as possible with you.

By law you must:

  • Provide your tenants with a valid Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), an annual Gas Safety Certificate and a copy of the government’s new ‘How to Rent’ guide at the start of their tenancy. If you fail to then you (or your agent) will be unable to evict them further down the line. You should also provide them with a copy of their tenancy agreement, to include: the date it began, the amount of rent due, when it’s to be paid, how and when the rent can be changed and the length of any fixed term.
  • Any deposits that have been paid to you on or after April 2007 must be protected in one of the 3 government-approved deposit protection schemes; Deposit Protection Scheme (DPS), MyDeposits or the Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS). If a court finds that you’ve failed to adequately protect their deposit, then you will be ordered to repay it directly to your tenant or pay it into an official TDP scheme’s bank account within 14 days. The court can also decide whether they order you to pay you up to 3 times the deposit amount!
  • You, or agents acting on your behalf, must now install smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms in all relevant rooms of your buy-to-let properties. They must be fully functioning at the start of the tenancy, but it remains your tenant’s responsibility to test and maintain each alarm throughout the tenancy period, e.g. changing the batteries.
  • You must provide each tenant with a name and an address in England or Wales that they can write to you.
  • Unless it is a valid emergency, you or your letting agent must give your tenant at least 24 hours’ notice (in writing) before you have the right to enter their home.
  • As a landlord you have a duty of care to maintain the property; keeping your tenants happy and free from any danger. Other than very minor requests (changing fuses, light bulbs, etc), you are responsible for the majority of the repairs. So make sure that you encourage your tenants to report any issues to you as soon as they arise; so as to minimise any potential damage.
  • You must serve the correct notices (e.g. Section 21) and obtain a possession order from the court to legally evict your tenants from the property.

 

  • You must make sure that there are working smoke alarms on every floor of your property in communal areas.

Deposit disputes should not be an ‘inevitable part’ of the rental experience in this day and age, we hope you agree? At Yellow Oak Inventories we believe that the 3 key elements to unlocking and improving the private rented sector right across the UK are: knowledge, professionalism and communication between landlords, agents and their tenants – especially younger tenants. This is why a simple inventory is a vital step in order to properly protect your investment – and that’s why we’d love to hear from you today:

Tel: 020 3713 4933 / Email: info@yellowoak.co.uk / Contact Form.

Smoke and carbon monoxide alarm inventory UPDATE

Smoke and carbon monoxide alarm inventory UPDATE

Another month, another new law for landlords it would seem! As of the beginning of October 2015 landlords in England are now required by law to install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors? Properly installed and maintained smoke alarms play a pivotal role in reducing fire, death and injuries in privately rented accommodation. And the same goes for carbon monoxide alarms. With almost two-thirds of home fire deaths resulting from properties that don’t have a working alarm, the chance of dying is cut in half with a working alarm.

Although I have noticed consistent news coverage on the subject, the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks are still worried that there is still confusion over who and when such smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms should be checked, as well as who does it; the landlord, agent or independent third party?

The standing legal position is that landlords in England, or agents acting on their behalf, are required to install smoke detectors on every floor of their property where a tenant is residing or partially living. Carbon Monoxide alarms must also be fitted in any room of rented accommodation where there is a solid fuel-burning appliance, e.g. gas cooker, open fire, wood burner, etc. Both must be tested at the beginning of each new tenancy, and those that don’t comply risk a fine of up to £5,000.

However the checking requirement does not apply to renewed or statutory periodic tenancies.

Patricia Barber, chair of the AIIC, announced: “As part of an inventory compilation or check in procedure at the beginning of the tenancy, an AIIC independent inventory clerk will be able to check smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms for power where possible and report back any problems found.”

“This then paves the way for landlords or their property managers to carry out subsequent checks during mid-term visits.” She added: “While the majority of landlords and agents may already have some sort of procedure in place, hopefully this news will help to put some property professionals’ minds at ease, saving time and money.”

This is a life and death situation after all, as in essence you have the safety and wellbeing of your tenants firmly in your hands. One tragic story of a family dying in a house fire is one too many for us at Yellow Oak Inventories, so it’s wonderful to see the lettings industry in England embracing this long-awaited law. That being said, everyone must remain vigilant as the only test that will be carried out by our Inventory clerks and many others is a simple sound test which indicates that the battery is still working. It is still ultimately the responsibility of the landlord and agent to make sure the alarms are working properly.

Other than fire alarms, there are other possible issues that can create unrest with the landlord/tenant relationship. So how else can you do to protect yourself and your tenants against potential disputes further down the line?

  • Take your time!

Many little mistakes that have escalated beyond control have often began as a tiny, overlooked issue.

  • Communicate!

The AIIC have recently been quoted as stating that a formal tenancy deposit dispute can be diffused by something as basic as simple conversation. At Yellow Oak Inventories we wholeheartedly agree, as its basic common sense that if a tenant contacts their letting agent or landlord to discuss a disagreement, there is a much reduced chance of it heightening to them lodging a formal complaint with one of the 3 deposit protection schemes.

  • Better to be safe than sorry!

If you’re unsure about something that could be life threating, then seek help and advice!

As a landlord, at Yellow Oak Inventories we believe that your tenants’ safety should be of the utmost importance. Be sure to choose a reputable property Inventory clerk that will tested your alarms for power (if reachable), visually inspect it and report back to you if there are any issues.

Still need help? Then please contact your local inventory clerk; http://yellowoak.co.uk/contact-us/

Many London landlords ‘would sell up if forced to cap rents’

A recent London Assembly-commissioned report predictably suggests that London landlords are unsupportive of rent controls, and that many would exit the private rental market altogether if they were ordered to cap or cut their rents.

The survey of 174 landlords was carried out by the Cambridge Centre for Housing and Planning Research, and considered six proposals for the cutting, capping or freezing of rents in the private sector. According to the study, most of the capital’s rented properties are currently let out on the basis of a six or 12-month shorthold tenancy, an arrangement that has been criticised for the little security that it gives to tenant families.

More than half of the polled landlords did say that they would consider offering three-year tenancies if they were provided with appropriate tax incentives – although some warned that they would be wary of offering long-term tenancies to such “risky” groups as families or housing benefit claimants.

Three quarters of the landlord respondents admitted that being forced to slash their rents by a third would prompt the sale of some of all of their properties – with many complaining that there would be no incentive for them to invest in maintenance if attempts were made by the government to stabilise rents.

However, with the period between 2013 and 2014 having seen an 11.9% jump in the cost of a new tenancy in London, it’s clear that the price of rents in the capital is a hot-button issue that will not go away any time soon – causing concern for all parties that might need to enquire about an Inventory Clerk in in central London.

Nonetheless, the report concluded that “With the right safeguards in place, it would seem likely that longer tenancies could become more normal in the UK without causing any negative impacts on housing supply.”

Such times of uncertainty if you are a buy-to-let landlord in the capital are only making it all the more crucial to do everything possible to ensure longer-term peace of mind – and the right rental inventory in central London from a reputable organisation like Yellow Oak Inventories LTD can certainly help in that regard.

Our own inventory service includes detailed reports, digital colour photographs of every room and information on the level of cleanliness and any specific damage that may have occurred. We can even give you a fast report turnaround – so if you require the reassurance that the complete impartial rental inventory in central London can bring, look no further than Yellow Oak Inventories LTD.

 

 

 

Labour mayoral candidate lays out London housing policies

The Labour London mayoral candidate, Sadiq Khan has revealed his policies on housing – and it seems that rental controls are high on his list of priorities. Earlier this year, Khan told the New Statesman that he plans to introduce what has been called a “London Home Bond”, which will be bought by investors in order to fund housing.

Khan, who defeated Blairite candidate Tessa Jowell in what was seen as a surprise victory, also plans to introduce a number of land release and planning measures. Yellow Oak Inventories LTD is a leading provider of London property inventory services and can therefore be of assistance if you require inventory services during this period of uncertainty for the capital’s private rented market.

Khan has proposed a 50 per cent target for “genuinely affordable homes” in new developments. He also intends to use planning powers to stop ‘buy-to-leave’ purchases and says that he plans to do all he can to “protect Londoners renting in the private sector”, including bringing in a new London Living Rent model, which will link rents to a third of income. Khan has added that he would push the Government into freezing private sector rents and introduce a social housing letting agency.

In related developments, an east London council has purchased an entire block of flats, which it plans to let at below-market rates. Barking and Dagenham LBC purchased the flats from construction business Bouygues, bringing 144 new homes into the private rental market by October. A spokesman for the council described it as an “innovative” decision designed to help “generation rent”. More than 1,000 people have already expressed an interest in the homes, according to the council’s Hakeen Osinaike. The properties cost the council £45m, which came through a credit facility secured from the European Investment Bank.

The two developments come at a time of great uncertainty for London landlords, many of which have been accused of charging excessive rents. Here at Yellow Oak Inventories LTD, we can help if you are concerned about future market developments and require the peace of mind provided by a professional, impartial inventory. We are the number one choice for a number of London landlords and can provide you with the excellence that you require.

Get in touch with the Yellow Oak Inventories LTD team today to learn more about how we can help.

 

Ensure your check out report is successful with Yellow Oak Inventories

Screen Shot 2015-10-09 at 12.33.17 The Association of Independent Inventory Clerks (AIIC) have recently suggested that if more tenants were to attend the check out at the end of their tenancies, there would be less deposit disputes all round. This plea comes in response via data released by the Deposit Protection Service (DPS), which suggests that 48% of tenants are failing to attend their check out reports. At Yellow Oak Inventories we whole-heartedly agree with this sentiment.

This is because:

  1. It’s a perfect opportunity for issues to be brought to the tenants attention.
  2. By discussing the condition tenants and landlords/agents can resolve problems in a much quicker fashion; preventing longer, drawn-out disputes further down the line.
  3. The tenant is fully aware of what will be in the check out report, so there will be no surprises when they receive it.

So how else can you ensure that your check out report goes smoothly?

  • Use a professional and independent inventory clerk, as they will understand what is best recorded when tenants arrive and how best to assess and demonstrate any changes at the end of the tenancy.
  • Provide reports from the check-in and mid-term as a reference point, for both inspection and discussion.
  • Ensure that tenants can make the check-out report appointment, by writing to them with sufficient notice. Clearly explain how important the process is and why they should attend, and be sure to explain such actions as taking photos during the visit, etc.
  • Take digital photos as these have a date stamp attached, which adds extra credence to your report.

Please read the related Yellow Oak Inventory Blog Post: Words or Video – Which is better? …

  • Be absolutely thorough and take your time, otherwise you may overlook an important issue; potentially making life for all parties involved more difficult.
  • However unlikely it may seem, if you feel that your safety could be jeopardised in anyway bring along a witness.
  • TAKE NOTE! – By this we mean make as many notes as possible, including any admissions from your tenant and/or any agreements that you reach.
  • Complete your properties check-out report before any repair work is done. This is because many landlords/agents unfortunately rush to overcome problems in preparation for their next tenant, which can prevent opportunities to record such repairs; increasing the possibility for dispute.

 

Check outs are one of the most important stages of any tenancy agreement. So if you need any help or advice with your inventory, please get in touch with one of our friendly team today – 020 3713 4933, info@yellowoak.co.uk or via Facebook or Twitter.

Tube map depicting London rental values goes viral

A new Tube map has been released showing the median cost of one-bedroom flats within a kilometre of every London Underground station. The map features information related to each line except the Circle line, as each stop on the Circle line is also part of another line. It shows that Hyde Park Corner (Piccadilly Line) is the most expensive, at £2,920 a month, with the cheapest being Hatton Cross at £324.

The map was put together by the Thrillist site, and has since gone viral – no doubt talked about by many of those, including landlords, letting agents and tenants alike, who may need to request a property inventory in London at some point in the coming weeks and months. The map demonstrates that prices rise the closer you get to Central London – and was released just days after a story about a tiny shed available for rent in one of the capital’s living rooms for more than £500 a month.

The map further illustrates how people earning a modest wage are being forced to live out of the centre of the city, with staff in entry-level jobs having to commute some considerable distance to get to work. This has led to suggestions that those on a low income are being priced out of London, as employers struggle to find workers for entry-level jobs due to the capital’s travel costs, which can take a sizeable chunk from monthly incomes.

Those seeking affordable accommodation around the capital are currently best catered for by areas near Hatton Cross, Redbridge and South Ruislip. The most expensive flats, meanwhile, are located near Hyde Park Corner, Knightsbridge, Green Park and Bond Street.

Here at Yellow Oak Inventories LTD, we specialise in providing inventories for landlords, tenants, relocation agents and letting agents. Our services are designed to protect the best interests of all parties, while helping to keep disputes and confusion to a minimum. We are a wholly impartial service offering richly-detailed inventory reports with digital colour photographs that ensure in-depth records of properties can be referred to during inspections.

All of our staff members are trained to the highest standards and are completely up-to-date with the latest legislation. Unlike some companies, we are also available on Sundays and Bank Holidays, and are APIP and AIIC accredited. Why not talk to us today if you require high quality London property inventory services from a leading company?

What’s your problem? It’s just a mid-term inspection…

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It’s not often you walk into your buy to let, only to be greeted by a 50-stone pig!! Just last week this happened to an unsuspecting landlord, who was handling a routine inspection of his property. Pretty funny to those of us who have (luckily) never found ourselves in such a ludicrous position, but not so funny for this landlord who now has (a reported) £7,500 worth of damage to take care of!

The landlord told the Daily Mirror: “I was absolutely stunned when I saw it, it was a complete shock. “I was just renting out my dad’s house after he moved and this was my first tenant, an RAF serviceman based at Brize Norton.
His partner was there when I examined the house, she said something about it being unwell and they brought it into the house. I said to the woman, there’s a pig in the house and she replied: ‘What’s your problem? It’s just a pig’.”

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This story highlights the absolute importance of conducting an inventory inspection accompanied by a series of thorough mid-term inspections, throughout all of your tenancies. It may seem more hassle than it’s worth, but imagine having the hassle of not only having to clear up this mess, but also have to pay for the repairs, new floor covering, re-turfing the garden and repairing of the patio!

DID YOU KNOW that an estimated 400,000 landlords in the UK have had their property damaged by tenants in the last 12 months?

So other than using an accredited and experienced inventory company to carry out your regular inspections, what else can you do to avoid similar shocking property damage being done to your property?…

  1. Insure Against the Unexpected

Property damage will be exceptionally costly if the level of damage exceeds the value of the tenancy deposit. So make sure you have the correct buy-to-let insurance in place, as at Yellow Oak Inventories it’s still quite shocking as to how many landlords end up finding out the hard way that their basic home insurance policy will not provide the essential cover they desperately need.

  1. Vet Tenants Properly

The unfortunate landlord at the heart of this sorry story said that he rented out his property to an RAF serviceman, but believed the pig was moved in by the man’s partner. The question is: did he reference check both tenants thoroughly, beforehand? Who knows; this may have happened in a previous property that they lived in, and their last landlord would be able to warn you about this simply through a quick phone call.

Please find our Three Point Anti-Bad Tenant Checklist HERE, which includes a full breakdown of each referencing procedure.

  1. Make Tenants Aware

It’s all very well spotting damages whilst doing regular inspections, but what if you could prevent them from happening in the first place? Thankfully, stories like these are a rarity and the majority of residential property damage is (more often than not) accidental or through a tenants sheer negligence. So from the beginning make them aware of ways that they can keep the property in good condition, e.g. regular carpet cleaning, airing the bathroom after a shower, routine changing of the smoke detector batteries, that they won’t receive their full deposit at the end of the tenancy if there is damage, etc.

Be proud of your next inventory report; use Yellow Oak Inventories in London today! Contact us on: 020 3713 4933, by email: info@yellowoak.co.uk or via Facebook or Twitter.

Another London council contemplates private rental licensing

Barnet seems to be following a number of London councils by moving closer towards increased private rental sector licensing. The authority, which is now in the last two weeks of a consultation on the subject, says that it wants to bring in additional licensing for small and other types of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO), alongside the licensing for landlords of larger HMOs that already exist. These licences are related to HMOs of three storeys or more with five or more people living in two or more households and shared kitchens or bathrooms. The consultation is due to close on September 17th.

The council proposes that licences should be introduced for smaller HMOs, including those with two or more storeys, four or more people living in two or more households with some or all of the facilities being shared. They will also cover some types of houses and buildings that have been turned into flats. Examples might include shared houses and flats, hostels, properties with live-in landlords and student accommodation.

The consultation was intended to investigate how the quality of private rented accommodation could be heightened through the introduction of such licensing. A spokesman for the council said that they were looking forward to hearing the thoughts of as many people as possible.

Such a development signalling a move to even more private licensing of landlords in London highlighted the importance of investors ensuring that suitably impartial and extensive inventories are carried out to help protect their cash flows. Here at Yellow Oak Inventories LTD, we want to hear from you if you require inventory services in London. We are a professional, independent organisation with many years of experience to draw upon. All of our clerks are also fully-insured and we can offer on-site feedback.

We are accredited by APIC and AIIC, and have worked with a large number of landlords, tenants, relocation agents, letting agents and housing associations. Yellow Oak Inventories LTD can offer a bespoke service tailored to your exact needs. An extended out of hours service is available and we can even work with you on weekends and bank holidays.

Why not get in touch with us today if you need to arrange an inventory of the highest standard for your London buy-to-let property?

 

London asking prices accelerate ahead of rest of UK

Landlords, tenants and letting agents requiring a property inventory clerk in central London or hoping to soon be in a position to do so, may be interested in new figures showing a pronounced difference between average asking prices in the capital and those in other areas of the country.

The data from Home.co.uk showed that asking prices in England and Wales had gone up by 0.6% in July, and in Scotland, had not changed at all. The big story for many, however, will be the 1.5% month-on-month rise in London’s asking prices and the 12.5% increase over the last year. This compared to 6.2% annual price growth in England and Wales and 3.6% in Scotland.

It all means that someone wishing to purchase a property in England or Wales – whether for buy-to-let or other purposes – can expect to be charged an average of £281,497 and in Scotland, £167,680. The equivalent London figure, however, is £525,145.

Prospective clients of a property inventory in central London may also take into account the property supply situation across the capital and the wider UK when considering additions to their portfolio. There has been a 10% decline over the last 12 months in the supply of property for sale across the country, with the quickest regional market still being the South East, where properties only typically spend 61 days on the market.

While Home.co.uk director Doug Shephard said that there had been speculation about an imminent rise in mortgage rates, the UK property market was still enjoying considerable momentum. He said that prices were continuing to be pushed upwards by a combination of buyer demand and insufficient supply, albeit not as fast as last year.

Shephard commented: “The supply crisis is becoming more acute, and July recorded the lowest number of properties entering the market for that month since the onset of the financial crisis. Lack of supply is felt most keenly in London and the East of England, where the volumes of properties entering the market are down 23% and 16% respectively.”

The situation prevailing in the capital of ever-increasing prices, the shortest marketing times in the country and a seller’s rather than buyer’s market will give many a landlord and letting agent food for thought as they also contemplate the best company from which to request a property inventory in London.

Naturally, here at Yellow Oak Inventories LTD, we believe that we are that company, and we take considerable pride in our ability to provide a wide range of clients in the capital with the most professional, complete and impartial inventory service.

London still tops list of UK buy-to-let hotspots

Landlords seeking the peace of mind that comes with a suitably detailed, impartial and professional property inventory in central London may be further assured that they are in the right place by the latest list of buy-to-let hotspots issued by Barclays Mortgages.

The company analysed over 500 of its customers who bought a buy-to-let property in 2014 or 2015, from which it compiled its data. 500 owners of buy-to-let property were also surveyed, with 75% of them stating that they owned more than one property. Multiple properties were especially common among Bradford and Glasgow landlords.

Remaining in the same top spot that it occupied last year in Barclays Mortgages’ survey was London, with Birmingham in the runner-up position – up from seventh last year. Bristol was third – the same position that it held in 2014 – with Nottingham, Manchester, Reading, Leeds, Southampton, Peterborough and Slough rounding out the top 10.

The presence elsewhere in the top 20 of London commuter towns like Luton and Milton Keynes indicates the willingness of many landlords to look outside the capital for value. Such news comes on the backdrop of an uncertain time for buy-to-let, with Chancellor George Osborne’s recent Budget having seen the announcement of restrictions to longstanding landlord tax breaks.

Not only will there be limits to the tax relief that wealthier buy-to-let investors can presently claim before the next election, but in April next year, the current “wear and tear allowance” will be replaced. Whereas this arrangement enables landlords to minimise their amount of tax payable irrespective of whether furnishings in their property are replaced, the new system will only offer tax relief when new furnishings are brought in.

Nonetheless, the buy-to-let market remains in rude health, as indicated in part by the Council of Mortgage Lenders’ (CML) disclosure of a 22% increase in buy-to-let lending in the year to May. This suggests that there are plenty of prospective investors out there – whether in London or such other popular areas revealed by the aforementioned analysis as Ilford, Harrow, Edinburgh, Swindon or Plymouth – looking to expand their buy-to-let portfolios or become landlords for the first time.

For those in the capital, however, it remains as crucial as ever to request the right property inventory in central London from a company that is renowned for its professionalism and thorough approach – a firm like Yellow Oak Inventories LTD, with its friendly and capable staff who are awaiting your call.

 

Words or Video – Which is better when conducting an inventory?

Words or Video - Which is better when conductingThere is an ongoing debate between landlords, agents and inventory clerks to whether words or video are better, when conducting an inventory.

Did you know that adjudicators actually prefer words to video in dispute cases?

Why?!

Well firstly, statements issued by both the TDS and MyDeposits make it very clear that written evidence (in the form of a detailed inventory and check out report) is still paramount to allow adjudicators to give a fair judgement.

The majority of us love new technology, as it’s a great time saver for many tasks. BUT sometimes it’s not always the answer and this is the case with property inventories. This is because a video relies on the adjudicator having the correct equipment to view it. They will also need patience to sift through potentially hours of footage to find the part that covers the dispute. A good video will also need to be supported by a detailed narrative throughout the recording, to explain to the adjudicator what exactly they’re looking at and what for.

Digital recorders make dictating and transcribing an inventory a much faster and easier process too.

In the last couple of years letting agents have actually been warned by the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks about replacing essential written inventory descriptions for digital evidence, as it leaves their landlord clients vulnerable to potential disputes further down the line. At Yellow Oak Inventories we completely agree with the associations’ statement that photographs and video can provide a good illustration, but are not at all helpful without a detailed written inventory firmly in place.

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’, however this is certainly not the case with a residential inventory report. Photographs alone, even with the date and time of day clearly shown, will provide no context whatsoever if they’re not accompanied by a written inventory.

This is where the help of a fully qualified, trained and experienced independent inventory clerk comes into play. As a landlord it shouldn’t be about getting the cheapest deal around, but about finding the best deal that’s going to protect you in the future should a dispute arise.

So in conclusion, at Yellow Oak Inventories we believe that words are far substantial when you are carrying out an inventory, but will be made stronger accompanied by good photographs and a well narrated video.

Please get in touch with one of our friendly team today – either by phone: 020 3713 4933, by email: info@yellowoak.co.uk or via Facebook or Twitter.

Prime central London rents experience slow annual growth in June

Yellow Oak Inventories LTD 4Annual growth in rents in prime central London reached a relatively cautious 3.4% in June, according to a new report. The surprise general election result has left the lettings market in the popular area of the city optimistic but still to adjust, says the report, which will certainly make interesting reading for those contemplating a professional inventory service in London or elsewhere.

This June figure means that this vital part of the rental market has now recorded yearly growth for 12 consecutive months. This follows previous forecasts by many industry observers that the re-election of the Conservatives to power in May would help to ensure a lengthy period of stability in the market.

However, while the prime central London rental market continues its wait for an expected significant summer rise in its rental values, demand has lacked consistency and rental companies are yet to fully come to terms with an election result that had been far from widely anticipated.

The report also revealed that some areas are seeing higher stock levels, due to landlords having awaited clarity around the general election result prior to deciding whether to rent out their properties.

The health of the prime central London rental market is strongly linked to that of the wider British economy, with stock levels increasing due to some landlords’ conviction that the economy is in better hands when overseen by a majority Conservative government.

However, in response to the report’s findings, property experts have also urged landlords to set realistic asking rents, as the higher stock levels have made prospective tenants choosier. It is not only landlords in prime central London who should remember this, as the national economic picture for the rest of 2015 is uncertain amid a range of factors.

These factors include several major financial institutions contemplating whether government plans for a referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union and the reclaiming of bonuses paid to bankers should lead them to shift operations outside the country.

This unclear economic forecast could have repercussions well beyond London, so many landlords could benefit from the greater certainty that a professional inventory service from Yellow Oak Inventories LTD could bring to their lives.

 

Growth of London rental market recovers following stagnant period

Yellow Oak Inventories LTD 4London residential landlords are likely to be much heartened by news that, in the three months to May, housing rental prices in the capital recovered their pace of growth after a recent period of stagnation. This revelation is in a recently published rental index from HomeLet that makes interesting reading for residential landlords considering London property inventory services.

This rise in London rental prices has prevented the rest of the UK from catching up with the capital in the rate of increase in residential rental prices. There remains, unsurprisingly, a significant gulf in these prices between London and the rest of the country; although the UK’s average rent in the three-month period was £935 monthly, this number falls to £738 when London is excluded.

Greater London was among the regions that saw the most substantial increases in their housing rental markets. The area’s growth percentage was 9.2%; only South West England, Scotland and South East England, with rates of 13.6%, 9.6% and 9.4%, had higher growth.

Greater London was also the first area in the index’s history to have its monthly rents surpass £1,500. Although the area’s average rent during the three months was actually £1,472, for strictly new tenancies signed in May, that number was £1,506.

The London property market, like the national market, slowed in the approach to the general election; however, with another election not currently due for nearly five years, the capital’s residential property market has good reason to expect a lengthy period of greater stability and uninterrupted growth.

These circumstances also make considering London property inventory services from Yellow Oak Inventories LTD wiser for many residential landlords. If you are a current or prospective London landlord, you should consider that with your property likely to be in greater demand than ever, it has never been more important to have a comprehensive inventory carried out to ward off potential disputes with tenants.

Yellow Oak Inventories LTD can provide you with a professional, impartial and detailed inventory that can indicate exactly what the rental property was like when it was inspected. This can take so much of the stress and hassle out of being a London landlord, so that you can look forward to enjoying your yield.

Scam Awareness Month | Landlords, Letting Agents and Tenants; Be Prepared!

Dont-be-rushe_225Did you know that this month is ‘Scam Awareness Month?’

Scam Awareness Month is all about creating a network of confident, alert, consumers who are ready, willing and able to spot scams. So efforts throughout July are important as they will help spread the message that scams can be tackled if we all take a bit of time to spot the signs and share what we’ve learnt with our peers and others within the industry.

As we are all aware, the property industry is almost completely unregulated and therefore very appealing to scammers. So at Yellow Oak Inventories we have compiled the 5 most common property scams and how best to avoid them:

  1. Land Registry Fraud.

Through this awful scam, the crooks manage to transfer the ownership of your home to a completely different person. They do this by finding a property, often via the Land Registry’s own data, and then contacting the LR asking to change the ownership details of that property. Letters will then be sent out to confirm the change, and this is where the scammers will attempt to intercept that correspondence in some way. If they are successful in changing the ownership details of the property, they can then take out a new mortgage on it or sell it and disappear into the sunset with their ill-gotten gains.

Landlords can protect themselves from this scam by keeping their details with the LR up-to-date through their website; www.landregistry.gov.uk/propertyfraud.

  1. Phony NLA Members.

This scam involves fake landlords advertising imaginary rental properties on free listings sites, such as Gumtree. This scam is extra sneaky as these scammers have used the National Landlords Association (NLA) logo, and even in some cases mocked up NLA stationary to reel in more unsuspecting tenants.

Never pay up front for a home you haven’t even viewed, and confirm that your landlord is indeed a member of the NLA by visiting www.goodlandlord.org.uk.

  1. Lettings verification.

This involves a fake Rightmove verification service being created, where an interested tenant is provided with emails and a web page designed to look like they have come directly from Rightmove. They will claim that they have been ‘approved’ as a vendor, however Rightmove does not offer a verification process or ever request or accept money directly from tenants.

Those that think they may have been affected by this scam should report it to Action Fraud immediately, as well as reporting it directly to Rightmove: security@rightmove.co.uk.

  1. Property Investment Courses

As property TV programs increase, it would appear that fraudulent property seminars do too. In exchange for your money, they’ll offer you tips on how to “get rich quick” from the property industry and will then offer you the chance to purchase some property at an amazing discount.

As with all of these scams; if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. So don’t end up out of pocket by thousands of pounds, and steer clear of any “get rich quick” scheme.

  1. Rental Scams

These involve receiving an email from an “Ambassador” or “Noble person” who is trying to rent out his property. There are many variations of this scam, but they can easily be avoided simply by blocking the senders email address and immediately reporting it to Action Fraud. And always be wary if anyone is asking for money, a loan or offering suspiciously high and/or unrealistic rates of return.

Scams: ‘Don’t be rushed, don’t be hushed…’

We can’t image the pain caused to those victims of scams, which is why at Yellow Oak Inventories we wanted to make you aware of the most common scam’s around at the moment. Like in all industries there are good and bad businesses and it often take a small free to ruin the reputation of many. All the companies and landlords we work with provide a highly professional service and proud that our inventory is part of their service.

Inventory Tips for Tenants

Inventory Tips for TenantsSo at Yellow Oak Inventories we’ve covered why it’s important for a landlord and a letting agent to have a thorough and detailed inventory in place, but why is it important for a tenant? And (as a tenant) what should you  be looking out for?

Well at Yellow Oak Inventories we are here to protect all parties involved in the lettings process, therefore we  have constructed the following inventory tips for tenants to provide extra peace of mind for those of you that are  on the move.

Inventory Tips for Tenants:

  1. Go through the inventory report with your methodically and slowly.
  • Is everything in the property included on the inventory report?
  • Is there anything listed on the inventory that you can’t find within the property?
  1. If your landlord/letting agent doesn’t provide you with an inventory, you can make one yourself. However we would encourage you to instruct an independent inventory clerk, as they are an unbiased third party who will further aid you if there is any form of dispute at the end of the tenancy between you and your landlord.
    Contact us here for further help and advice.
  2. If you haven’t been supplied with an inventory, then ask your landlord/agent for a copy, as a rent paying tenant you are entitled to this.
  3. If the property includes a garden/outside space/drive-way parking space/etc make sure it is included on the inventory report too.
  4. Make notes on the inventory of any damage to the property and get agreement from your landlord/letting agent.
  5. Make sure you use all appliances early in the tenancy to determine if they are working correctly.
  6. Take your own photos of the property when you first move in, especially of any existing damage.
  7. Keep your copy of the inventory in a safe place.
  8. Keep good records, in case of a tenancy deposit dispute further down the line.
    – This should include records of anything you’ve damaged or replaced – e.g. photos / estimates/emails.
    – Also keep records of repair work carried out by your landlord – e.g. letters / receipts.
  9. Make sure you are present at the check-out inspection.

Other than your tenancy agreement you should consider your inventory report the second most important part of your tenancy, as this document will be key in deciding how much of your deposit is returned to you at the end of your agreement.

Need any more advice on your inventory report? Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us, either by phone: 020 3713 4933, by email: info@yellowoak.co.uk or via Facebook or Twitter.

 

Buying property with sitting tenants

Buying property with sitting tenantsDid you know that the proportion of properties bought by landlords with a sitting tenant has increased four-fold since 2008?

Following statistics, recently released by agency group Countrywide, after analysing over 65,000 rental properties they revealed that last year some 11% of all rental properties that were bought by an investor came with a sitting tenant in the mix. London has come up on top, where the proportion of landlord purchases with a sitting tenant is highest; with over a quarter of all purchases by landlords in 2014 up from 12% on 2008.

At Yellow Oak Inventories we believe that this is great news for renters, as it shows that if a landlord decides to sell his property that it won’t affect a tenant’s living conditions or tenancy. The main benefit of buying with a sitting tenant is that by keeping the existing tenants there will be no void and you can start receiving rent from day one. But with more landlords looking to buy from other landlords who already have a tenant in place, are there any pitfalls to this trend that you should be wary of?

With this in mind we have devised the following tips for those of you who are thinking of buying a property with sitting tenants included:

  • Copy of Inventory

Included within all of the property paperwork, make sure there is a correct copy of the inventory report from when the sitting tenant moved in. What with a quarter of sitting tenants signing contracts of 2 years or longer, a copy of the inventory report is extremely important to protect against any claims or disputes at the end of the tenancy.

Don’t forget to ask whether there are any copies of mid-term reviews/inspections too, for extra protection as well as insight into how your new tenant has been treating the property over the term of their tenancy with the previous owner.

  • Referencing

As the new landlord you have a right to reference check the sitting tenants, but you are not entitled to charge them for this. Be sure to check whether they have the right to reside in the UK also, to comply with the upcoming immigration right to rent legislation that will soon cover the whole of the UK, following the conclusion of the West Midlands pilot scheme (which is currently still underway).

Inventories and Right to Rent Legislation – Click to read on.

  • Deposit protection

Make sure you have proof that this has been carried out correctly by the previous landlord, including serving the paperwork to the tenant. It wouldn’t hurt to have written confirmation that this has been carried out too directly from the tenant, as an extra safety net.

  • Rent Guarantee Insurance

Because you haven’t hand-picked this tenant from the start you have no idea whether they are a good tenant or not, so obtaining rent guarantee insurance would be a good idea to consider.

Still not sure whether you should take on a new buy-to-let property with a sitting tenant? Then please get in contact with us today for further advice – either by phone: 020 3713 4933, by email: info@yellowoak.co.uk or via Facebook or Twitter.

Buy-to-let valuations accelerate as first-time buyers decline

Yellow Oak Inventories LTD 4If any more evidence was needed that now is definitely the time of the buy-to-let landlord rather than the first-time buyer, it is surely in new figures released by a prominent survey and valuation firm. It will make encouraging reading for many of those considering or currently taking advantage of Yellow Oak Inventories LTD’s expertise as a property inventory provider.

According to the data, buy-to-let valuations were up by a third in May compared to the same time a year earlier – with the same period seeing a 4% slide in the number of valuations for first-time buyers. It was a similar story on a month-by-month basis – while there were 2% fewer first-time buyer valuations in May than in the previous month, there was a 3% increase in buy-to-let valuations.

The figures paint a picture of a booming buy-to-let market, in which existing landlords seek to add to their portfolios while others look to become landlords for the first time. First-time buyer activity, though, was sluggish – not only in the context of the wider property market, but also compared to the situation in April. This was despite the weeks leading up to the election being especially uncertain ones for those looking to buy a home.

As fewer people search for a home of their own, however, more of them decide to remain tenants – a situation that is undoubtedly benefitting landlords. As well as the current market trends in favour of landlords, another thing that is clear is the very real need for a professional property inventory.

An impartial and detailed inventory recording the exact state of your rental property at the time of inspection is an invaluable tool for avoiding any disputes between you and your tenant when the tenancy comes to an end.

Yellow Oak Inventories LTD is a truly independent party, and can provide the complete property inventory in Milton Keynes – consisting of a report supplemented with digital colour photographs – to give you the ultimate peace of mind ahead of your next tenancy agreement, whether you are a new or current landlord.

 

 

 

New survey helps emphasise the importance of inventory reports

yellowoakA survey conducted by an online letting agent has revealed that most landlords in the UK find their full or part-time jobs less stressful than managing their rental properties, underlining the importance of contracting a professional inventory service.

The survey suggested that arrears create the most cause for concern, with 87% of participants linking them to stress, while 80% cited the prevalence of tenant complaints. Research also indicated that 43% were concerned about the difficulties associated with repairs, with 40% drawing attention to new immigration laws and 28% troubled over securing financing in order to expand their property portfolios. Furthermore, 25% mentioned tax, while 23% blamed partners without a full understanding of the struggles involved in managing buy-to-let properties.

However, the survey did draw attention to the negligible amount of reported stress that came as the result of finding new tenants, a strong reminder of the demand that the market is currently experiencing.

Taking both the strong demand for rental properties and the anxiety over arrears into account, we suggest that there has never been a better time to conduct thorough reference and background checks. Identifying problem tenants will save on potential evictions and arrears in the future, so we would advise that you run credit checks, ask for proof of both identity and address and talk to your prospective tenant in order to assess their character.

You should also take advantage of Yellow Oak Inventories LTD’s professional inventory service. Landlords rely upon our service to create exhaustive inventory reports detailing the condition of their property, contents, fittings and fixtures before it becomes occupied by the tenant. This can then be used as a binding agreement between them and their tenants, protecting them from the cost of repairs that were not their fault.

Yellow Oak Inventories LTD is APIP and AIIC accredited, with years of experience within the property industry, so each of our clerks is an expert in uncovering damage hidden by tenants. Each report is comprehensive and supported by digital colour photographs of every room and specific piece of damage. If you want to lower the level of stress associated with owning a buy-to-let property, just contact one of our team members today.

 

 

Our Top 5 Sources of Lettings Information

Our Top 5 Sources of Lettings InformationAt Yellowoak Inventories we always strive to keep you in the loop and fully informed on all the latest legislation changes, which are relevant to you as a landlord in England or Wales. However, we also acknowledge that there are some great websites out there who also provide great content; therefore we wanted to take this opportunity to introduce you to our  Top 5 Sources of Lettings Information.

  1. Property Tribes – propertytribes.com – ‘None of us is smart as all of us.’

Property Tribes is the UK’s busiest landlord and investor community, where you can access discussion forums and share your property issues, ideas, strategies and much more all in one place. It’s free to sign up to and use once you’ve read and agreed to the site rules.

For example, here is a post on Yellowoak Inventories in their forum: *Property inventories and mid-term property inspections with Yellow Oak Inventories. As you can see, this began life as a helpful tips video and then turned into an interesting discussion thread about the importance of avoiding cutting corners when carrying out your inventory.

  1. SAFEagentsafeagents.co.uk‘The Mark of Trust.’

This year marked the 4th annual SAFEagent awareness week, where over 3,000 professional letting agents united together to generate awareness on how vital it is to choose a lettings and management agent who is part of a Client Money Protection (CMP) Scheme.

We fully understand the importance for our clients being made aware that we are trained to the highest possible standard, conforming to a strict code of conduct and this is why we are full certified members of the APIP and AIIC. (Association of Independent Inventory Clerks & Association of Professional Inventory Providers.) Therefore we welcome any official form of ‘endorsement’ in the lettings industry, which is how SAFEAgent provides landlords and tenants with peace of mind that the money they’ve paid in deposits and rent to their agent is fully protected. So those letting agents who display the SAFEagent logo show that they’re part of an approved CMP scheme, which ensures that they are protecting their clients monies correctly.

  1. Landlord Law – landlordlaw.co.uk‘Legal help, services & support for PRS landlords.’

Landlord Law enters its 14th year online this year, written and run by landlord and tenant lawyer Tessa Shepperson. They also run training courses and do their utmost to educate landlords on what can be quite complicated housing laws and rules to get your head around.

  1. Property Industry Eye – propertyindustryeye.com‘Where News Comes First.’

Property Industry Eye is dedicated to the publication of independent, unbiased, factual and accurate news reporting of matters of interest to those working in the UK property market and beyond. As well as news topics, they also provide a public forum discussion to debate topics of the day and a vehicle for service provides to reach their markets.

  1. The mainstream lettings portals; Rightmove, Zoopla and OntheMarket.com

Accessing a combination of these blogs will provide you with no end of insight, information and food for thought on the latest lettings issues, offers and advice from a whole host of trustworthy experts from the UK lettings industry.

All of these websites primarily seek to educate landlords and others within the lettings industry, and we personally applaud them and hope that they carry on doing so!